In this short poem, Imam al-Haddad counsels us to be people of sabr (steadfastness or patience). He extols the virtues of steadfastness, gives glad tidings to those who possess this trait and points to its connection to other lofty spiritual stations. He reminds us of the nature of tribulations and their connection to the divine decree. Finally, he calls upon us to emulate the steadfastness of the pious who have gone before and their master, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
Habib Umar bin Hafiz is explaining the poem line by line at the beginning of his daily Rawha sessions as part of this year’s Dowra
Imam Hasan, the son of Imam Abdullah bin Alawi al-Haddad was
a seeker, a person of piety and a scholar who acted according to his knowledge.
Imam al-Haddad, however, was waiting for him to reach higher levels. He said:
“When that son of mine performs hajj something will be ingrained in him which was
not in him before.”
So he went to perform hajj and implemented all the sunnahs,
exerted great caution and effort until the hajj had its effect upon him. Then
he returned to Hadramawt and became a paragon of renunciation of worldly things
They told him that part of his house was falling and it
needed to be repaired (houses in Hadramawt are built from mud bricks and
require regular repair) but he replied that he did not need that part of the
house and life was short.
He focused on teaching and preparing for the next life until one half of the house caved in. He said: “The other half of the house is sufficient.” He carried on in this way until only one room of the house was left standing. When people criticised him, he replied with a verse of poetry:
يقولون بيتك بيت صغير كأن نسجته لك العنكبوت
فقلت المقام قليل به وهذا كثير على من يموت
They say your house is so small it could have been woven by
I say to them I will not live long in it and it is plenty
big enough for someone who is sure to die
This is the exact opposite of what hajj does to some people.
They go to hajj and they have some humility but they return with more desire
and concern for worldly things. This would be a sign that their hajj has not
been accepted and we seek Allah’s refuge from that.
The whole purpose of hajj is to draw us closer to Allah, the
King, the Living and that we see things as they truly are.
Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us
Imam al-Haddad (may Allah have mercy upon him and benefit us by him) explains that your speech is a reflection of your inner state.
“Your words are the fruit which you produce. So observe them: are they foul or are they good? What you find is what you are, for they are a part of you. A pure container only pours out that which is pure; and the opposite is true. Likewise, a good palm tree, or any tree, produces good fruit; and a foul tree produces foul fruit. ‘Every container gives of what it is contained within it.’ Allah the Exalted says: The good land produces abundant vegetation by the will of its Lord, whereas the foul land hardly produces anything(7:58).”
We are blessed to have a large number of letters which Imam al-Haddad wrote to his students. Each letter contains many lessons for us and paints a picture of the methods the Imam used in nurturing his students and guiding them along the path.
In this letter, Imam al-Haddad issues a strong rebuke to one of his students. Before even addressing him personally, he eloquently reminds him of the worthlessness of this life and warns him against being attached to anything worldly. He asks Allah to rectify his heart and bless him with contentment. Then comes the rebuke: the Imam says that it is as if none of the time they spent together has had any effect on him and uses a Quranic verse and one of the aphorisms of Imam Ibn Ataillah to make his point. Finally he warns him against backbiting, which can be done with the pen just as it can be done with the tongue. In spite of the rebuke, the Imam remains compassionate and tells him that he loves him and is praying for him.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
My people, this worldly life is only temporary enjoyment, and indeed, the Hereafter – that is the everlasting abode.
All praise be to Allah, Who made love of this world and coveting it one of the clearest signs that a person’s heart has become hard and has been plunged into an ocean of darkness in which the raging winds of grief blow against it and the waves of anxiety break upon it from all sides.
Transcendent is the One Who gave no rest and respite to those who avidly seek this worldly life. If only instead of giving them respite, He prevented calamities from befalling them.
May Allah’s prayers and peace be upon our master Muhammad and his Family and Companions at all times.
From the one in most need of Allah the All Powerful, Abdullah bin Alawi al-Haddad al-Alawi al-Husayni, to the one who he loves him for Allah’s sake, the one who is connected to the people of Allah: Ali bin Umar Uqbah. May Allah give him relief through contentment with the bitterness of Allah’s decree. May Allah sever his attachment to this ephemeral contemptible world and allow his heart to focus on the next life which is far greater and more enduring. Amin.
Salam alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,
Be certain, my beloved brother, that we have received your letter but we did not take any comfort from it other than from the praise of Allah which it contained and your greetings.
I am astonished: it is as if you do not know how Allah described this world in His Book and on the tongue of His Messenger!
I really wonder what effect those gatherings had upon you, gatherings that were filled with priceless pieces of wisdom. Was your heart not softened by them? Did your mind not find tranquility in them? It is as if you have no heart and no mind! If you had them they would have benefited:
Do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are only like cattle; rather, they are further astray.
Everything that has happened to you or will happen is as one of them said: “Whoever does not turn himself to Allah due to the gentle manifestations of His kindness, will be dragged to Him with the fetters of severe trials.”
I have no preference in whether you travel or not. Had you not gone against our teachings, you would not have experienced what you are now experiencing.
Never write to us again mentioning something bad about a fellow Muslim. Do you not know that the most disliked of people to us are those who backbite others?
Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)
Imam al-Haddad is known as the ‘renewer’ (mujaddid) of the 12th Islamic century. What form did his renewal (tajdid) take?
Imam al-Haddad brought about a general renewal and a specific renewal. He brought about a general renewal by giving life to the meanings of the religion in the hearts and the lives of its adherents. This was the promised renewal which the Prophet ﷺ informed us would take place every century. He brought about a specific renewal by explaining the spiritual path of his predecessors and making it easy for those who wish to travel it. He placed everything that a wayfarer on the path needs – whether it be the Ba Alawi path specifically or any Sufi path – in two of his books: ‘Good Manners’ (Adab Suluk al-Murid) and ‘The Book of Assistance’ (Risalat al-Mu`awanah).
“Remembrance of Allah is like a magnet – it pulls the heart away from heedlessness and into the unseen realm.”
“Brotherhood for Allah’s sake is like a tree. It is irrigated with the water of mutual visiting and the fruit it bears is working together for the sake of goodness and taqwa. If it is not watered it will wither and if it does not bear any fruit it will be cut down.”
“Words and actions that are in obedience to Allah illuminate the heart; those that are merely permissible harden the heart and those that are in disobedience to Allah darken the heart.”
“As a seeker who wishes to travel the path to complete realisation, you must know that the most important thing is for your heart to be fully focused on the love of Allah and on seeking Him, and for your body to be fully engaged in obeying Him and seeking closeness to Him. Everything depends on this, as the people of tasawwuf have stated.”
This is Imam al-Haddad’s Prayer for Strength. Habib Umar bin Hafiz recommends reciting it regularly.
(اللَّهُمَّ يا رَبُّ يا قَدِيرُ يا قَوِيُّ يا مَتِينُ (ثلاثاً
أَسْأَلُكَ بِقُدْرَتِك وبِقُوَّتِكَ أَنْ تُمِدَّني في جَميعِ قِوايَ وجَوارِحِي الظَّاهِرة ِوالباطِنة ِبِقُوَّةٍ مِنْ قُوَّتِك َوقُدْرَةٍ مِنْ قُدْرَتِكَ أَقْدِرُ بِها وأَقْوَى بِها على القِيامِ بِما كَلَّفْتَنِي بِهِ مِنْ حُقُوقِ رُبوبِيَّتِك ونَدَبْتَنِي إِلَيْهِ مِنْها فِيما بَيْنِي وبَيْنِكَ وفِيما بَيْنِي وبَيْنَ خَلْقِكَ وعلى التَّمَتُّعِ بِكُلِّ ما خَوَّلْتَني مِنْ نِعَمِك الَّتي أَبَحْتَهَا لي في دِينِك ويَكونُ كُلُّ ذلِكَ على أَصْلَحِ الوُجُوهِ وأَكْمَلِها وأَحْسَنِها وأَفْضَلِها مَصْحُوباً بِالعَافِيةِ والقَبُولِ والرِّضى مِنْكَ يا أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمين
O Allah, O Lord, O Omnipotent, O Most Powerful, O Most Firm (three times).
I ask You, through Your ability and power, to bolster my inward and outward strength, giving me the ability and strength to perform the things which You have charged me to perform which pertain to the rights of Your lordship;
And to perform what You have encouraged me to perform, whether this pertains to my relationship with You or my relationship with Your creation;
And to enjoy every one of the blessings that You have bestowed upon me, which You have made permissible to me in Your religion;
And that all this be in the best, most beneficial and perfect way, accompanied by well-being, acceptance and Your good pleasure, O Most Merciful.
You must hold fast to all the acts of devotion which you perform regularly when you are not travelling. Do not make light of leaving any of them. You should make up any acts of devotion which you are unable to perform due to travelling when you are able to do so, if they are of the sort which can be made up. If it is not possible to make them up, then remember that Allah has made things easy for people travelling. The hadith states: “If a believer travels or becomes sick, Allah orders His angels to record for him the same actions that he would perform when he was not travelling and was in good health.”1 This is a blessing, a mercy and ease from Allah. All praise be to Allah – He is so merciful and kind to His slaves!
Beware of belittling the dispensations of shortening and joining one’s prayers when it is permissible to do so, for “Allah loves for people to take His dispensations just as He loves people to perform that which has normally been made compulsory for them.”2
Be consistent in reading the supplications that it is recommended to read while travelling, such as the supplication you read upon mounting (your horse) or dismounting,3 or the supplication you read upon entering a town. You will find a large amount of these in al-Adhkar [of Imam al-Nawawi] so look for them and memorise them.
When you travel, make your spiritual ambition drive your feet forward and make your heart travel with your body. Let reliance upon Allah be your provision, having a good opinion of Him your support, truthfulness your vehicle and neediness and brokenness your inner and outer garments. Let your contentment with Him to the exclusion of all others be your companion.
You must purify your intention to go to Allah’s Sacred House, to perform the rights of hajj, to venerate the things which He has made inviolable and sacred and to visit the grave of His Prophet ﷺ. In your journey to those places you should have no other purpose or aim except this and any other praiseworthy intention connected to this. Beware of combining these noble intentions with the desire for recreation or trade.
You must make tawaf (circumambulation) of the Ancient House in abundance, for the one making tawaf is immersed in mercy. While you are doing so, your hearts should be overflowing with veneration and magnification for the Lord of the House. Do not busy yourselves with anything other than recitation of the Qur’ān, remembrance of Allah and supplication. Beware of idle speech.
Be consistent in reading the adhkar and supplications which should be read during tawaf and sa`i and in other places on the hajj. You should also have the utmost concern for visiting all the sacred places.
You should perform `umrah in abundance, especially in the month of Ramadan, for performing one `umrah in Ramadan is equal in reward to performing hajj with the Prophet ﷺ.
You must have veneration for the two Sacred Precincts and observe the correct etiquette in them. You must also honour those living there, and give them the right due to them for living in proximity to those blessed places. Maintain a good opinion of them specifically and of the Muslims generally. If you see or hear something you dislike, be patient and remain silent. However, if you are able to openly speak the truth then do so, for no one has any excuse to remain silent unless he is absolutely certain he is unable to change a wrong that is being committed.
One of the best states to be in is to focus fully on Allah and on worshipping Him such that you are unaware of the state of those around you, since the people of this time have contravened the way of the pious predecessors and left behind their praiseworthy teachings. The one who Allah guides is rightly guided; but the one who Allah causes to go astray – for him you will find no protector to guide him.4
You must perform abundant pious acts in the Sacred Precinct in Makkah, for one good deed therein is rewarded one hundred thousand times over. This multiplication is narrated specifically regarding the prayer by the Messenger of Allah ﷺ but some scholars regard it to apply to all acts of obedience. Just as the reward for acts of obedience is far greater in the Sacred Precinct, likewise acts of disobedience are far graver therein. One of the pious predecessors said: “There is no place where someone is taken to account for wishing to commit an act of disobedience other than Makkah.” The scholars use as evidence for this Allah’s saying: If Anyone wishes therein to do wrong out of deviance We will cause him to taste a painful punishment.5
Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them both, said: “I would prefer to commit seventy sins outside the Sacred Precinct than to commit one sin in Makkah.” May Allah protect Makkah, and increase it in greatness, stature and nobility.
When you reach His inviolable House and your eyes gaze upon it, make your heart gaze upon the Lord of the House. Ḥajj has an outer element and an inner element. The outer element is the Sacred Law (shari`ah) and the inner element is reality (haqiqah). Do not focus on one element to the exclusion of the other, but rather combine the two.
Know that there is a house inside you that belongs to Allāh, which is your heart. He has ordered Ibrahim (your knowledge) and Isma`il (your intellect) to purify it for the angels and spirits who wish to make tawaf (circumambulation) of it, seclude themselves in it, bow and prostrate in it.6 Anyone who possesses neither Ibrahim nor Isma`il is ignorant and foolish, and the Fire will consume him. Anyone who possesses them both but does not allow them to purify the house so that it is fit for those who wish to make tawaf (circumambulation) of it and seclude themselves in it, is a representative of the Devil. An example of such a person is a heedless scholar who does not act according to the dictates of his knowledge and intellect.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Zamzam water is what it is drunk for.” This means that if someone drinks it for a sickness, Allah will heal them; if someone drinks it for hunger, Allah will cause them to be satiated and if someone drinks it for a need, Allah will fulfill that need. This is because the well was brought forth when Allah’s aid was sought and Allah gave relief to Isma`il by it. The great Imams have tried this with their own needs and found the Prophet’s words to be true. However, it requires a correct intention and sincerity and it is not for everyone.
CONCLUSION: STORIES OF THE PIOUS
This conclusion is somewhat appropriate to the counsels which preceded it, and someone of intellect and intelligence may derive etiquettes from these narrations which he should observe in those sacred places.
Mentioning the pious predecessors and their lives gives comfort to travellers on the path to the next life, for they are the examples which we should take. Looking at their striving helps seekers to realise their shortcomings. If someone looks at the people of his time and their heedlessness and procrastination, he will most often become proud of himself or harbour a bad opinion of them, both of which are blameworthy. The felicitous one is someone who emulates the pious predecessors, uses them as a proof against himself and drives himself to walk in their footsteps and to follow their straight path.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ made hajj riding on a shabby-looking saddle, under which was a rug worth less than four dirhams. On his return he said: “O Allah, make it a blessed Ḥajj. Let there be no ostentation in it, nor reputation-seeking.”
`Umar made tawafaround the House. He placed his hand on the Black Stone, kissed it and then cried. Then he said: “By Allah, I know that you are a Stone that cannot harm or benefit anyone. Had I not seen the Messenger of Allah doing this, I would not have done it.” Then he turned round and saw `Ali (may Allah ennoble him) behind him. He said to him: “O Abu al-Hasan, this is the place where tears flow.”`Ali said to him: “On the contrary, O Leader of the Believers, this Stone harms and benefits people. When Allah took the covenant with the progeny of Adam and said to them: ‘Am I not your Lord?’, He recorded this and this Stone swallowed this document. It will then bear witness to anyone who touches it with truthfulness.”
A man met `Abdullah bin `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) while making tawaf. He asked `Abdullah bin `Umar for something but he did not respond. `Abdullah bin `Umar met the man again later and said to him: “Perhaps you were upset when I did not respond to you. Do you not know that when we make tawafwe present ourselves to Allah? In any case your need has been answered.”
Taus said: “I saw `Ali (Zayn al-`Abidin) the son of Imam al-Husayn in the depths of the night standing in prayer in the Hijr so I came close to him, saying to myself, ‘This is a pious man from the People of the House. Perhaps I will hear him say something that will benefit me.’ I heard him saying while in prostration: ‘A beggar is at Your door, a poor man is at Your door, Your needy slave is at Your door.’8 Whenever I called upon Allah using these words, my prayers were answered.”
It was said that when `Ali (Zayn al-`Abidin) the son of Imam al-Husayn entered into ihram he wished to say ‘labbayk’, but instead he started shaking, his colour changed and he fell off his camel. When he was asked what happened he said: “I feared that I would say labbayk – responding to the call of my Lord – and it would be completely rejected.”
Salim bin `Abdullah bin `Umar met Hisham bin `Abd al-Malik who was then the governor of Makkah inside the Ka`bah. Hisham said to him: “Ask me, that I may fulfill your need.”
“I would be ashamed to ask other than Him, when I am in His House.” When they were outside the House, Hisham said to him: “You are now outside, so ask what you wish.” Salim said: “Do you mean from the things of this world or the next world?” “All I possess are the things of this world.” “I did not ask for worldly things from the One Who possesses them, so why would I ask them from anyone other than Him?”
A pious man said: “I once saw a man performing tawaf and sa`i. His slaves were around him driving people out of his way to make space for him. I later saw him in Baghdad begging. I asked him what had happened and he said: ‘I showed arrogance in a place where people show humility so Allah humbled me in a place where people show arrogance.’”
Al-Hasan al-Basri once stood at `Arafat in the sun on an extremely hot day. He was asked: “Why do you not move into the shade?” He replied: “I did not realise I was in the sun. I recalled a sin that I had committed and I did not feel the heat of the sun.” It was so hot that had someone wrung out his clothes, sweat would have run forth from them. This sin that he recalled was probably a mere thought that had it come to anyone else’s mind, they would not have even considered it a minor sin. This is the veneration the pious predecessors had for their Lord and their distance from acts of disobedience.
A man once took seven stones from `Arafat and made them bear witness to his testimony that there is no god but Allāh. He then saw in a dream that he was standing in front of Allāh to be judged. He was taken to account and then ordered to be taken to the Fire. However, whenever he was brought to one of the seven gates of the Fire, a stone came and blocked his entrance. He realised that these stones were the same stones that had born witness to his testimony. Then his testimony was brought and the gate of Paradise was opened to him.
`Ali bin al-Muwaffaq said: “On the eve of the Day of `Arafah I saw in my dream two angels who had descended from the heavens. One said to the other: “Do you know how many people have come to our Lord’s House to perform Ḥajj this year?” “No,” said the other. “Six hundred thousand,” he said. “Do you know how many have been accepted?” “No.” “Six people.” So I remained in a state of sorrow and distress. I said to myself, ‘What chance do I have of being among those six?’ The following night, the eve of the Day of Slaughter, I saw the two angels again. One said to the other: “Do you know what the judgement of our Lord was?” “No,” said the other. “He gave one hundred thousand people to each of the six (and thus accepted them all).” Upon hearing this, I woke up in a state of joy that was indescribable.
TURNING TO THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH
We round off these counsels with Imam al-Haddad’s address to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ on his visit to him.
أَتَيْنَاكَ زَوَّاراً نَرُومُ شَفَاعَةً إِلى اللهِ في مَحْوِ الإِسَاءَةِ و الذَّنْبِ
و في النَّفْسِ حَاجَاتٌ و ثَمَّ مَطَالِبُ نُؤَمِّلُ أَنْ تُقْضى بِجَاهِكَ يا مُحْبِي
تَوَجَّهْ رَسولَ للهِ في كُلِّ حَاجَةٍ لنا و مُهِمٍّ في المعَاشِ و في القَلْبِ
و إِنَّ صَلاحَ الدِّينِ و القَلْبِ سَيِّدي هُوَ الغَرَضُ الأَقْصى فَيَا سَيِّدي قُمْ بِي
عَلَيْكَ صَلاةُ اللهِ يا خَيْرَ مُهْتَدٍ و هادٍ بِنُورِ اللهِ في الشَّرْقِ و الغَرْبِ
We have come to you as visitors, aiming to attain your intercession with Allah in wiping out our sins and wrongdoings
In our souls are needs and requests that we hope to be fulfilled through your status, O Giver
Turn (to Allah), O Messenger of Allah, regarding every need and concern of ours in our worldly lives and in our hearts
The rectification of my religion and my heart is my utmost goal, my Master, so assist me.
May Allah’s blessings be upon you, for you are the best one who guides by the light of Allah in the East and West.
[Taken from Imam al-Haddad’s al-Wasaya al-Naf`iah, from his Diwanand from al-Fuyudat al-Rabbaniyyah by Habib Zayn bin Sumayt]
2Narrated by Ahmad, al-Bayhaqi and al-Tabarani.Rukhsah is a dispensation; `azimah (strictness) is what Allah initially legislates of general rulings not concerned with one circumstance rather than other, or one individual rather than other. (“Reliance of the Traveller,” N. Keller c6.1-2).
3 In our times this applies to any vehicle which you may board.
6The Imam is referring to Allah’s saying: We took a covenant with Ibrāhīm and Ismā`īl that they purify My House for those who wish to make ṭawāf (circumambulation) of it, seclude themselves in it, bow and prostrate in it (al-Baqarah, 2:125).
7The hijris the crescent shaped area immediately adjacent to the Ka’bah. It was originally part of the Ka’bah.
He is al-Imam al-Habib `Abdullah bin `Alawi bin Muhammad bin Ahmad bin `Abdullah bin Muhammad bin `Alawi bin Ahmad “al-Haddad” bin Abu Bakr bin Ahmad bin Muhammad bin `Abdullah bin Ahmad bin `Abd al-Rahman bin `Alawi `Amm al-Faqih (uncle of al-Faqih al-Muqaddam), bin Muhammad Sahib Mirbat, bin `Ali Khali` Qasam, bin `Alawi, bin Muhammad Sahib al-Sawma`ah, bin `Alawi, bin `Ubaydullah, bin al-Imam al-Muhajir il-Allah Ahmad, bin ` Isa, bin Muhammad al-Naqib, bin `Ali al-`Uraydi, bin Ja`far al-Sadiq, bin Muhammad al-Baqir, bin `Ali Zayn al-`Abidin, bin Husayn al-Sibt, bin `Ali bin Abi Talib and Fatimah al-Zahra’, the daughter of our Master Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets ﷺ.
The name “al-Haddad” goes back to one of the ancestors of Habib `Abdullah, Sayyid Ahmad bin Abu Bakr, who used to spend time with an ironsmith (haddad in Arabic) in his shop in Tarim and thus became known by that name to distinguish him from another Sayyid, whose name was also Ahmad.1
“Habib” came to be the title of the `Alawi Sayyids from the 11th Century onwards.
Imam al-Haddad was born in Subayr near the city of Tarim in 1044 (1634). He went blind at the age of four but Allah blessed him with the light of inner sight. His father directed him to the pursuit of knowledge and he memorised the Qur’an and the foundational texts of the Islamic sciences at an early age. Among his teachers were Habib `Abdullah bin Ahmad Balfaqih and Habib `Umar ibn `Abd al-Rahman al-`Attas. He corresponded by letter with Habib Muhammad bin `Alawi al-Saqqaf, who lived in Makkah, and it was through him that the Imam received his opening. He continued in his studies until he reached the rank of mujtahid.
His love of knowledge was accompanied with a love of worship. In his childhood, when his morning lessons had finished, he would perform up to 200 rakats of prayer in Masjid Ba `Alawi or other mosques. His day was structured around acts of worship, which began long before dawn and ended late at night, interspersed with lessons and time with his family. He compiled a number of litanies, the most famous being the Ratib and al-Wird al-Latif, which provide spiritual sustenance for the seeker. He had a great attachment to SuratYa Sin, which he read constantly and in which he was given a special opening. The supplication which he would make after it continues to be read widely, as do many of his litanies.
After being given the order by his grandfather, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, the Imam began calling to Allah at every level, such that he became known as the ‘Pole of Da`wah and Guidance.’ He had a small number of close disciples who he trained in the spiritual path. He said of his technique: “We may train one of our students for a whole year in attaining one attribute.” He called the scholars to act according to their knowledge and to become callers themselves. He called the rulers and the common people alike. He established a mawlid in the month of Rajab and would feed all those who attended, saying: “If they do not benefit from our speech then we will place our blessings in the food.”
He authored a number of books which continue to benefit people generation after generation. His works are clear and concise and thus suitable for our times. Several have been translated into English and other languages. He would dictate large sections of his books to his students without any preparation. The Imam’s longest work, al-Nasa’ih al-Diniyyah, contains the essence of Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din. In al-Da`wah al-Tammah (The Complete Call) he classifies society into eight categories and outlines each category’s rights and duties. Risalat al-Mu`awanah (The Book of Assistance), which he authored at the age of 26, is every Muslim’s manual of the path to Allah. Other works include The Lives of Man, Knowledge and Wisdom and Good Manners, all excellently translated by Dr Mostafa al-Badawi.
The Imam also placed his knowledge and his secrets in his collection of poetry (Diwan) and used it as a means of calling people to Allah. He said that the one who has the Diwan needs no other book. Several of the poems in it contain a complete exposition of the spiritual path and were explained during the lifetime of the Imam by his great student, Habib Ahmad bin Zayn al-Habashi. His poetry reached such a degree of acceptance that one of his verses was inscribed on the wall of the enclosure in which lies the grave of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ:
نَبِيٌّ عَظِيْمٌ خُلْقُهُ الخُلُقُ الَّذِي
لَهُ عَظَّمَ الرَّحمنُ فِيْ سَيِّدِ الكُتْبِ
An awesome Prophet, whose character the All-Compassionate has venerated in the Master of all Books
Imam al-Haddad’s poems continue to bring light and life to gatherings all over the world. One of his masterpieces is his “Pre-dawn Breeze,” which begins:
He said of it: “This one of the greatest works which we have composed, for every verse is an expression of Allah’s oneness (tawḥīd). Had it been our way to take the means2 we would have bequeathed that the poem be buried with us, but our way is to meet Allah in a state of absolute neediness (faqr).” The Imam established a hadrah on Thursday night which continues to this day in Masjid al-Fath in al-Hawi. He placed this poem at the end, at which point he, and those attending would stand. One of the sultans of Hadramawt came to Tarim and requested a meeting with the Imam, who refused, but sent instead sent him this poem, saying: “It is sufficient for him.”
Imam al-Haddad was involved in society at every level. He would write to the sultans warning them of their contravention of the Sacred Law and commanding them to repent and return to Allah. He also advised them in the affairs of government and mediated between conflicting tribes. He advised farmers on agricultural techniques and castigated the wealthy for not using their wealth to help the poor.
He established the village of Hawi on the outskirts of Tarim which was self-sufficient and free from the meddling of the rulers of the time – close enough to receive the good of Tarim but far enough away to be safe from the conflict and sedition that plagued the city. The mosque which he built there, Masjid al-Fath, and his house have now been greatly renovated and receive many visitors. He would supervise and fund the raising of orphans in his house and, in spite of his blindness, would take part in the work of the house, feeding the animals and sealing the water vessels.
One of the sultans of India wished to honour him by sending a ship laden with gold but the Imam knew that the arrival of this wealth would have negative effects on Hadramawt and its people. He asked Allah to make the ship sink and that everyone aboard would be saved, which duly happened.
His reliance on Allah was such that he said: “If the sky were to call out, ‘I will not send forth a drop of rain,’ and the earth were to call out, ‘I will not send forth a single shoot,’ and I was responsible for feeding all the people of Tarim I would not be in the least concerned after my Lord has said: There is no creature on the earth but that Allah has guaranteed to provide for it.”3
He was in a state of constant presence with Allah, which led him to say to his students at times: “Do not ask me too many questions for I have to expend great efforts to focus my attention on you.” Not wishing for anyone to detract from his focus on his Lord, he instructed people not to approach when he was going to out to the mosque for prayer. On one occasion he said “Allahu akbar” upon entering the prayer with such force that the wall of the mihrab in front of him split. The crack remained in the wall until the recent refurbishment of the mosque.
His constant supplication was to perfect his following of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. In his old age he grew his hair long, saying: “There is not a sunnah that was prescribed by the Prophet ﷺexcept that I hope I have acted upon it.” He said that if he was in doubt over the authenticity of a hadith, he would refer directly to the Prophet ﷺ.
Habib `Ali al-Habashi said of him:
فَجَمِيعُ مَنْ سَلَكَ الطَّرِيقَةَ بَعَدَهُ
مُسْتَصْبِحُونَ بِنُورِهِ الوَقَّادِ
قَرَّتْ بِهِ عَيْنُ النَّبيِّ مُحَمَّدٍ
فَهُوَ لَهُ مِنْ أَحْسَنِ الأَوْلادِ
Everyone that takes the path after him
Is guided by his brilliant light
He was the cooling of the eye of the Prophet Muhammad
And he is one of the best of his children
It is little surprise that the Imam came to be regarded as the “renewer” (mujaddid) of the 12th Islamic Century. He died in al-Hawi on 7th Dhu’l-Qa`dah 1132 (1719) and was buried in the Zanbal Graveyard in Tarim. He (may Allah be pleased with him) left behind six sons – Hasan (who became his spiritual heir), Husayn, `Alawi, Salim, Zayn, Muhammad; and four daughters – `A’ishah, Salma, Fatimah, and Bahiyyah.
His students were giants in their own right: amongst them Habib Ahmad bin Zayn al-Habashi, Habib `Abd al-Rahman bin `Abdullah Balfaqih, Habib `Umar bin `Abd al- Rahman al-Barr and Habib Muhammad bin Zayn bin Sumayt.
1 For the full story and for a more detailed biography of the Imam, see Sufi Sage of Arabia, Mostafa al-Badawi.
2 Meaning that the greatness of this poem in Allah’s sight would have been a means to attaining His mercy and forgiveness. However, the Imam preferred to rely completely on Allah’s generosity and meet Him with nothing.
The following prayer was composed by Imam al-Haddad
اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ على سَيِّدِنا و مَوْلانا مُحَمَّدٍ الَّذي أُمِرْنا على لِسَانِهِ بِحِفْظِ الحُدُودِ و الوَفَاءِ بِالعُهُودِ و الرِّضا بِالمَوْجُودِ و الصَّبْرِ على المَفْقُودِ
O Allah, bestow prayers upon our Master Muhammad, on whose tongue we have been commanded to maintain the boundaries, to honour our trusts, to be content with what we possess and to patiently bear any losses we suffer.